Great thanks to our guest blogger, A, for sharing her thoughts.
1.steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Foster parents need a lot of perseverance. It’s especially difficult, full of obstacles and often can leave you feeling discouraged. As a foster parent and adoptive resource, I’ve felt like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and put into a blender on several occasions. I felt the sting of “the system” when it comes to the lack of help in supporting these children.
I believe that being a foster parent is a special calling. For me, it wasn’t in my plans to become a foster parent until I realized that I could not have my own biological children. I thought infertility was my obstacle and difficulty.Truth is, foster parenting just came with its own set of difficulties and obstacles.
My foster children will be with me three years this November. Yet, we are still waiting for the judge to make a decision regarding permanency. Our three years have led to six different ongoing caseworkers within two different agencies. We have had two different judges for the CHIPS (Child in Need of Protective Services) and another judge to hear our TPR hearings. We have had our licensing worker, two different adoption workers, a caregiver support worker and more than a few liaison workers, plus countless supervisors and visitation workers… Then add in assistant district attorneys, guardian ad litems and therapists, and you can quickly see how many people have a say in my every day life. All of these people have some sort of say about how things run in my household.
For instance, how many of you have a fire evacuation plan posted in your house? How many of you need to be concerned with a bathroom to people ratio in your home? Do you have to plan your life around weekly medical appointments? If thought filling out the beginning of the year school paperwork was cumbersome, try filling out foster parent paperwork. Do you have to have routine TB tests and physicals just to have your children in your home? Do you have to allow for 10 – 20 hours of training per year into your schedule? Unless you are a foster parent, you probably don’t have these concerns. They can be a heavy burden at times.
Despite all of your perfect planning, foster parenting doesn’t go according to ANY plan. Sure, that court hearing is supposed to accomplish X, Y and Z… but in the end, you didn’t accomplish any of it because it has now been pushed back another three months. Even visitations when scheduled don’t happen according to plan. Sometimes the visitation workers show up early or late. Sometimes the visits get cancelled. Sometimes people forgot to tell you there is a visit and suddenly there is a “surprise to foster parent visit.”
It is easy to give up hope. It is easy to question why you became a foster parent. It’s sometimes even easy to wish that things were back to the way it was before the children came.
If you are that foster parent, just know this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
We need to persevere for these special children. They are worth it. In fact, they are more than worth it. They need someone in their life that won’t give up on them. Caseworkers may keep changing, but we don’t have to. Judges may rotate out of the system, but we don’t have to go anywhere. We can be someone dependable and consistent for them.
Two things have helped me to persevere during this three-year journey:
- Not comparing my story to others – As a foster parent that would love to adopt my kiddos, I have witnessed many families’ stories happen on a much more rapid time frame than ours. It’s hard to remember that each story is so unique. When I compare myself to others, I lose focus (and lots of energy) on what is important – the awesome children that I share my life with.
- The children – There are those moments when they understand what you have done for them. Those moments where they appreciate what it meant to open your home and hearts to them. Those moments reaffirm to me that it is worth waiting this out.
In particular, one moment really stands out to me. My daughter loves to babble on end before bedtime. She hopes that she can stay up later that way. One night, out of the blue, she says to me, “Mom, thank you for saving my life.” I looked at her, just stunned by her words. She continued with, “Well, yeah. You give us a safe place to sleep every night.” As my eyes swelled with tears, and I forgot about all the drama of another useless court hearing. She said, “Mom? You’re not going to cry, are you?” So I took her and just hugged her.
If you are that foster parent who is still waiting to adopt, I hope that we can stand together and not lose the hope. I haven’t reached the end of this journey yet. I know that even if these children would be reunited with their family, they have changed me. If my journey turns out with the reality of adoption, I will be beyond thrilled. However it turns out, I’m going to keep on giving it all for them, because they are beyond worthy and hold my heart.